Friday, November 18, 2005

The Jólasveinar


Iceland's landscape is haunted by several holiday ogres and their offspring. Grýla and her mate Leppalúði are flesh-eating monsters who have thirteen children known as Jólasveinar or Yule Lads. The mischievous youngsters come down from the mountains, one by one, and visit homes beginning on December 12th. By Christmas Day, they've all arrived and, according to legend, have made life miserable for the inhabitants. Each Yule Lad has a specialty. For example, Meat Hooker steals the roast from the refrigerator, Door Slammer slams doors in the middle of the night and Window Peeper can be seen peeking through the curtains after the household has gone to bed.

In addition, for 13 days, if the children have been good, one of these lads will leave a gift in the children's shoes which are placed on the windowsill. If the children have been bad the lads leave a potato or other reminder that gifts are for good children.

The Jólasveinar start returning to the mountains on Christmas Day, one each day until the last one departs on January 6th.

Icelandic television goes off the air on Christmas Eve from 5 until 10 p.m. so that families can spend the time dining together followed by the opening of gifts.

Christmas Day, Jóladagur, and Boxing Day, Annar Jóladagur, bring on more feasting, visiting, and parties. The season ends on January 6 when bonfires burn the holiday refuse and fireworks are set off.

It sounds like a fun place to spend the holidays.

16 comments:

mergrl said...

What great traditions, I seem to remember reading somewhere that the people of Iceland have a very rich...word loss here, mythology? That they believe that there are a lot of places still inhabited by gnomes and elves and such.

gonna have to go find that article now and read it again.

Autumn Storm said...

It does sound like a wonderful place to spend the holidays! Maybe next year?

tsduff said...

You never know what is up around the corner ;-) Definitely will be back in June, and would LOVE to be there at Christmas. Nice day dreaming thought :-)

tsduff said...

(Terry, when exactly is your birthday?)

Autumn, I try not to have them any more, but somehow they just keep happening!

I was born on the last day of November. My favorite month :-)

mergrl said...

woo hooo we get to celebrate a birthday this month (and don't worry, we have only ageless birthdays)

thanks again Terry, you are the best :0)

tsduff said...

You know Tracey, your "woo hoo's" really are great :-D

sister celtic said...

WOW INTERESTING FOLKLORE AND FABLE.. THATS COOL THANKS..

mergrl said...

LOL glad somebody thinks so my family seems to think its annoying, especially the sarcastic version of it LOL :0)

hope you are having a good day, ran out of time this morning and didn't get to stop by and say mornin to everyone :0)

mergrl said...

oh I almost forgot, how was the birthday party :0)

Crazy Me said...

No tv for how many hours? My family would kill each other!!

Lindsey said...

Other than the flesh eating part...it sounds very cool.

Keshi said...

yep I agree with Linny..lol..:)

Keshi.

Jeanne said...

Here, every man, woman, and child gathers round the television each Christmas Eve at 3pm to watch an hour of Walt Disney's Christmas. Year after year, since the dawn of time. It was decided a few years ago, when the Swedish host for the program died, that they would take it off the air, but there was such turbulance and rioting (slight exageration) that the powers that be changed their minds.

tsduff said...

Tracey, I survived the b-day party - actually it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be :-) My grandson had lots of friends there, and they kept themselves occupied on video games and each other. I got to sit at the "grown ups" table.

tsduff said...

Jeanne, LOL thanks for sharing that tradition! Some things just aren't meant to change - old habits die hard. I always have to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas and The Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out") or it just doesn't feel right.

ECS said...

Icelandic Christmas is definitely crazy! Many of the dairy products have special Christmas packaging that came out last weekend, like the milk. There are also Christmas trees going up all over town, and lights across all the main streets. It is kind of a necessity with all the dark though. The sun doesn't really come up until 10:30!